How broadly applicable is the All Aboard Florida development strategy?

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» Coupling real estate investment with the construction of new transit lines is the future, but the conditions need to be right.

Public development and ownership of the transportation system in the United States provided some broad, important social benefits that would not have been possible had our governments left it in the hands of the private sector. The downfall of the public transit and rail industries between the 1930s and 1970s throughout the country (itself partly a consequence of government investment in roads) was due to the fact that those services were no longer profitable. Government intervention through takeover of bankrupt lines kept those services operating and ensured the continuing existence of what is truly an essential public service in our major metropolitan areas.

Yet with the governments takeover of transit services, our regions lost a powerful skill that private transportation providers a century ago used well: Connecting new development with transit investments. The history of

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Where There Were Once Many Lines Planned, Just One Opens in Miami

MIA Metrorail Station

» The failure of a local sales tax to produce revenues as expected should dampen excitement around the latest extension of Miami’s Metrorail system.

Last week, Georgia voters overwhelmingly denied the passage of the T-SPLOST referendum, which, among other things, would have provided $7.2 billion for transportation over the next ten years to the Atlanta region thanks to income from a 1¢ sales tax. About half of that funding would have gone to public transit operations and expansion; in the city of Atlanta itself, the program would have paid for the beginning of work on the Beltline transit corridor, a light rail line to Emory University, several BRT lines, and a MARTA heavy rail extension. Voters were clearly unconvinced of the value of the transportation investments, were motivated by anti-tax sentiment, and felt that the projects would not benefit them directly. The result may be decades of increasing

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Does an Airport Line Have to Reach the Airport?

Dulles Airport Rail Links

» For Washington Dulles Airport, raising the unthinkable on a new rail link.

Yesterday, Robert Brown, a member of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), suggested rethinking his agency’s planned Metro rail extension out to Dulles Airport, the Washington region’s prime international gateway. Instead of the bringing this $2.8 billion rail link — frequently referred to as the Silver Line — directly to the airport, Brown noted that replacing the final 1.5-mile connection with a people mover would save $70 million thanks to a more limited right-of-way and the construction of one less Metro station.

The Silver Line is an extension of the Washington Metro’s Orange Line and will eventually reach Loudoun County. The first segment of the project, to Tyson’s Corner and Wiehle  Avenue, is planned to open for service next year.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the idea was perceived as heresy, both by local commenters and board members. Mame

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Miami’s Long-Sought Plans for Metro Extensions Dissolve as Funding Disappears

Miami Transit Plans Map

» Northern extension to Broward County line to be pulled out of federal New Starts process as limited tax revenues hit home. A reconsideration of priorities was in order anyway.

Miami-Dade County voters were promised way too much when they were asked to endorse a half-cent sales tax increase for better transit back in 2002. Not only would they get much more bus service, but also the construction of two new Metrorail extensions, more than doubling the size of the system by 2020.

Suffice it to say that despite electoral approval of the funding source, little has improved. Thanks to a reduction in tax receipts seen across the country and corruption within the transit agency, bus offerings have been cut back to levels not much different than those available around ten years ago. The one Metrorail line that has entered construction, the 2.4-mile AirportLink, has

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Florida Convenes Special Legislative Session for Sunrail, Tri-Rail, High-Speed Rail

» Newfound support for rail investment likely a result of push by DOT Secretary for the state to prop up train travel.

Update, 9 December 2009: Florida Senate passes the bill 27-10, an unexpectedly large majority, prepping the legislation for a signing by Governor Crist. Florida has put itself at the top, with California, in demanding federal funds for HSR.

Earlier this fall, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood gave Florida officials a choice: either buck up and support funding for the state’s commuter rail systems, or lose out on potential federal funding for a proposed high-speed rail system between Tampa and Orlando. Mr. LaHood’s challenge seems to have paid off: this week, state legislators began debating a law that would create a new Florida Rail Enterprise that would fund the existing Tri-Rail commuter system in Miami, ensure construction of the Orlando-area SunRail line, and take command of high-speed rail development. If

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The Site / The Fight

by Yonah Freemark

yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com

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